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#393 Alma’s Voice – Highfield Nursery with Rock Paper Scissors and Toddle Talk

Ruth Coleman

What did we do?

Alma is a child at Highfield.  She has Down’s Syndrome and communicates through signing.  The project was to upskill the children in Alma’s class and the team working with Alma to ensure Alma’s Voice is heard and understood. 

Liberty from Rock Paper Scissors came into nursery and ran 6 short art sessions (2 in each classroom) to produce wall hangings to represent the project. 

Toddletalk are providing 17 signing sessions in the Butterflies class to build the children’s capacity to share Alma’s way of communicating. 

Partnerships with both Rock, Paper Scissors and Toddletalk are new partnerships, facilitated by the Tell Your Story grant. 

Every child and member of staff in the school took part in the project in the art project part of the grant.  16 children and 5 staff, including Alma are taking part in the signing part of the project.  This is all the children attending sessions with Alma 

Summary of impact

The project has enabled all the children to take part in a whole centre project.  The children who spend the most time with Alma will be able to communicate better because of this project.  Early feedback is that children are going home and teaching signing to their parents and siblings, so the knowledge is extending in our community.

The project contributes to the following “Hullabaloo22” outcomes:

Outcome 1: Education providers enrich the cultural and creative curriculum in their settings 

The opportunity to follow through a project from beginning to end, including working with paint and large scale canvasses.  The enriched methods of communication in school through very young children learning to sign. 

Outcome 3: Arts and cultural providers attract more children and young people from under-represented communities to take part the cultural offer in Ipswich  

Alma has Down’s Syndrome and her family have been extremely supportive of the project.  They are happy that Alma’s Voice is being valued within the setting and her main method of communication can be highlighted and enhanced so her peers and the staff can ‘hear’ her voice. This will help Alma to develop a more detailed speech pattern through her signing. 

Outcome 6: Education settings develop as hubs for high quality arts and cultural experiences  

The opportunity to build new relationships with both Liberty at Rock Paper Scissors and Anne at Toddletalk and develop ongoing projects. 

Outcome 8: New partnerships develop between community organisations/groups and arts providers 

The opportunity to build new relationships with both Liberty at Rock Paper Scissors and Anne at Toddletalk and develop ongoing projects

What would we do differently

The children are used to being able to get messy and explore so this was not a worry to the children, staff or parents.  If I was delivering this project again, I would like to secure funding to ensure every class had access to signing classes on a regular basis.  This would mean more children learning how to communicate and they would keep that skill throughout their education. 

Were young people involved in co-producing this activity?

The children designed the art canvas with Liberty facilitating the exploration of materials.  As children’s confidence is growing, they are asking for more ways to sign within the classroom – such as holding up a small toy animal and asking ‘what is the sign for this?’ 

Are there parts of the project you will continue to develop and deliver?

Signing classes will continue into the autumn term to ensure new children starting in September have access to good quality signing engagement.  As staff become more confident, they will share their knowledge through staff meetings. 


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